Vic’s elite trotting ranks make it time to embrace Eureka moment

April 19, 2024 BY

Double down: Adam Hamilton is calling on Victoria to capitalise on the trotting success of horses such as Just Believe. Photo: THETROTS.COM.AU

NOW is the time for Victoria to double down.

Trotting, as opposed to pacing, is Victoria’s point of difference and never has the climate been better to really drive that home.

Decades of sustained support, often against strong headwinds of negativity, have been rewarded for trotting in Victoria.

For all those who dared to unashamedly back trotting, sometimes even at the expense of pacing, watching last Friday night’s epic inaugural $NZ600,000 TAB Trot at Cambridge must have been a seriously proud and satisfying moment.

Four Victorian trotters in the eight-horse field and they ran first, second, third and fourth.

And the dominance came in the strongest field of trotter assembled in this part of the world for almost three decades.

Even the great Mark Purdon agreed he hadn’t seen a better field of trotters since his own champion mare Pride Of Petite came from a seemingly impossible position to win the 1997 Adelaide Inter Dominion final.

She beat the likes of Wagon Apollo, Knight Pistol, Diamond Field, Inda Bank and US import Holdontomyheart.

Last Friday it was Just Believe, who now surely rates up with the all-time great trotters, dominating once again by sitting parked still winning without driver Greg Sugars pulling the ear plugs out against such elite competition.

European import Callmethebreeze burned to the front and really made Just Believe earn it, while brilliant mare Queen Elida made the most of a lovely sit behind the leader and produced something closer to her best in third spot.

The emerging Arcee Phoenix lost no admirers with a terrific fourth, further cementing him as the “next likely” star of trotting ranks given his scope to continue improving after a spell.

Victoria already has an array of top trotting races, but let’s further enhance that.

There’s been lots of talk about it, but let’s get a serious trotting slot race up and running to further boost that pocket of major trotting races in January/February.

If Cambridge can build a $NZ600,000 trotting race out of thin air, then surely the might of Australia can make a $1 million version.

Throw in the likes of the Great Southern Star, Australian Trotting Grand Prix and other races and you’ll have something beyond special.

You’ll have the backbone of a trotting extravaganza, which when you add in the Group 1 Hammerhead at Menangle, along with the TAB Trot and other Kiwi features will surely catch the eye of North American and European trainers.

I’ll bet anything they start bringing horses down, maybe not their very best, but given the strength of trotting globally, the potential for seriously talented raiders is huge.

Strike now.

The world is watching our trotters, largely due to the awareness and respect created by Just Believe’s deeds in Sweden last year.

Many have followed him since he returned home as he’s gone to a new level with 11 wins, including a second Inter Dominion and the TAB Trot from just 13 starts. Throw in the interest in Callmethebreeze, a multiple European Group 1 winner, racing Down Under, too.

For so long considered a trotting backwater, we’ve now earned serious respect.

Take a bow people like Pat Driscoll, Duncan McPherson, Michael Taranto and Jim Connelly, along with Andrew Kelly at a national administration level.

Again, now is the time to double down.

Just Believe is not going to Sweden and we’ll have at least another year of flying the trotting flag Down Under. He looks to be getting better rather than age catching up with him.

Callmethebreeze will only be better with a break and more time to adapt to our racing.

Arcee Phoenix has already beaten Just Believe once and we’ve all seen enough to know he can and will do so again at some stage.

In Australia, I’m dreaming of (and hoping for) a world where Victoria “owns” trotting, Sydney has the TAB Eureka and Miracle Mile and Brisbane becomes the home of the Inter Dominion in the heart of its Winter Carnival. Different themes, but an industry working in unison.

A building block towards that is Victoria upping its already industry-leading ante around trotting.